City of Gold Coast rejects proposal to develop former Arundel Hills Country Club for housing

City of Gold Coast rejects proposal to develop former Arundel Hills Country Club for housing
  • PublishedJanuary 22, 2024

City of Gold Coast councillors stressed the need to maintain green spaces by unanimously refusing a developer’s application to develop the former Arundel Hills Country Club. 

In unanimously refusing the project, they recognised a “very well organised and coordinated campaign” by a community opposition group that resulted in 1,163 submissions against the development.

The site is home to a golf course that developers have proposed to cut up into 380 lots that could eventually house 1,200 people.

Council planning chairperson Mark Hammel said the proposal would result in the removal of 78,000 square metres of vegetation — or about 8 hectares of the 67-hectare parcel of land — which would impact native wildlife, including endangered koalas.

Another of the many points of opposition is that the project would result in a loss of sporting and recreational land.

Developers had proposed that land for new sporting fields would be donated to a neighbouring school, but Cr Hammel said they would not be available for public use.

“This is at complete odds with the intent of the sport recreation zone,” he said.

Cr Hammel said council officers included nine pages of recommendations for refusal in a report on the proposal.

Developer Dale Carroll, who is part of the group that asked the council to re-zone the land, declined to comment on the decision.

‘Dystopian’ Western Sydney comparison

The decision comes as the city faces an acute housing shortage, which councillor Hermann Vorster says “is causing enormous social issues and dislocation within the city”.

“It is something that urgently needs to be addressed, absolutely, urgently needs to be addressed,” he said.

A new housing estate in Western Sydney
Cr Vorster was critical of housing estates in western Sydney.(Supplied: Adam Hollingworth)

Speaking in opposition to the project, he said the council was focused on conserving green space that included the shuttered golf course and surrounding areas.

“I want to acknowledge that this green and open space is private property,” Cr Vorster said.

“Nonetheless, it is inhabited by koalas and other wildlife that Gold Coasters genuinely value as part of their experience living here.

“I have no appetite to turn the Gold Coast into western Sydney or outer Melbourne.

“It’s quite dystopian … they’ve just scraped land clean, filled it chock a block, and people have led terrible, terrible lives.

“We don’t want that here on the Gold Coast.”

House roofs from above
Northern areas of the Gold Coast have experienced massive population growth in recent decades.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Councillor Brooke Patterson said the city faced a shortage of parks and recreational areas. 

“So to those who are concerned that we aren’t cognisant of the needs of a growing population … we are aware of those, but these are things that are not a luxury,” she said.

“They are essential for our city to be able to continue and be sustainable.

The council said about 50.55 per cent of the city’s land area was covered in native vegetation, with a target of 51 per cent coverage. 

“We currently have to acquire more green and open space to be able to service that housing need and I’m very much supportive of that,” Cr Patterson said.

“So I just wanted to make that clear to those who are concerned about housing. This actually supports future population targets for our city as well.”

Challenge potential

Cr Hammel said the developers had indicated they would appeal the refusal, adding that if they did so the council would defend its decision “with all resources available to it”. 

Cr Vorster backed that sentiment. 

“We won’t squib, we won’t quiver, we won’t kowtow. You have set an important precedent today and it should be one that’s applied to every refusal moving forward because we don’t do double standards,” he said.

A view looking towards suburban housing from a golf course fairway.
The gates to the golf course have been closed for some time.(Supplied: Urbis)

Arundel Hills Community Association president Jason Young counted the decision as a win after two years of hard work in the community.

“We had a number of neighbourhood champions all get out into the community and talk to residents in the area,” he said. 

“We’d of course like to see it turned back into a golf course. We still think that’s very viable.

He said he felt the case would eventually be appealed in the state’s Planning and Environment Court.

“We’ve known that all along, but this is a really big win for us at this point,” Mr Young said.

The matter is due to go before a full council meeting on Thursday.


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